2017 MLB Season Predictions and Storylines 

 

Final Standing Predictions

American League East

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. Toronto Blue Jays
  3. Baltimore Orioles
  4. New York Yankees
  5. Tampa Bay Rays

American League Central

  1. Cleveland Indians
  2. Kansas City Royals
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Minnesota Twins
  5. Chicago White Sox

American League West

  1. Houston Astros
  2. Seattle Mariners
  3. Texas Rangers
  4. Oakland Athletics
  5. Los Angeles Angels

 

National League 

National League East 

  1. Washington Nationals
  2. New York Mets
  3. Atlanta Braves
  4. Miami Marlins
  5. Philadelphia Phillies

National League Central

  1. Chicago Cubs
  2. Pittsburgh Pirates
  3. St Louis Cardinals
  4. Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Cincinnati Reds

National League West

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. San Francisco Giants
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. Colorado Rockies
  5. San Diego Padres

 

MLB Award Predictions

 

MLB: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

 

American League MVP:

  1. Mookie Betts • OF • Boston Red Sox
  2. Manny Machado • 3B • Baltimore Orioles
  3. Mike Trout • OF • Los Angeles Angels

 

nolan-arenado

 

National League MVP:

  1. Nolan Arenado • 3B • Colorado Rockies
  2. Bryce Harper • OF • Washington Nationals
  3. Kris Bryant • 3B • Chicago Cubs

 

carlos-carrasco-

 

American League Cy Young:

  1. Carlos Carrasco • RHP • Cleveland Indians
  2. Chris Sale • LHP • Boston Red Sox
  3. Corey Kluber • RHP • Cleveland Indians

 

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Washington Nationals

 

National League Cy Young:

  1. Max Scherzer • RHP • Washington Nationals
  2. Clayton Kershaw • LHP • Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Jake Arrieta • RHP • Chicago Cubs

 

Benintendi1280_lhsi39qt_h8gf3kr6

 

American League Rookie of the Year:

  1. Andrew Benitendi • OF • Boston Red Sox
  2. Yoan Moncada • 2B • Chicago White Sox
  3. Jharel Cotton • P • Oakland Athletics

 

dansby swanson

 

National League Rookie of the Year:

  1. Dansby Swanson • SS • Atlanta Braves
  2. Hunter Renfroe • OF • San Diego Padres
  3. Jose Peraza • 2B • Cincinnati Reds

AL Comeback Player of the Year:

  1. Pablo Sandoval • 3B • Boston Red Sox

NL Comeback Player of the Year:

  1. Greg Holland • P • Colorado Rockies

 

Storylines to Follow Throughout the Season

 

vin

 

 

No More Vin. This will be the first year since 1950 (67 seasons) that you won’t be able to hear the “voice of baseball.” The Dodgers will now be called by the voice of Joe Davis, who will have some help along the way from the likes of Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciaparra. The loss of Scully’s iconic voice and one man booth is unparalleled. It’s like a little bit of the game itself retired. Imagine if hot dogs were no longer sold at stadiums or if they stopped piping “Take me out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch. One of the last living ties to the golden age of baseball, besides his voice and canter, it’s his knowledge that will be missed most.

 

manfred

 

New Rule Changes for 2017. New to the rules this season will be the “No pitch” intentional walk. Managers will now signal the umpire that they want to issue a walk and the player will simply take his base. There will also be new guidelines for reviewing a play. Managers now have 30 seconds to decide whether or not to challenge and the umpires have a two minute limit on reviewing before issuing their decision. Personally, I believe that eliminating the ability to call someone from the dugout phone and have them decide whether or not to challenge, would be a better change but I guess this is a step in the right direction. In addition to those two rules, there will no longer be allowed the use of marking instruments or marking of fields themselves for defensive positioning (think the Dodgers and their laser pointers last season). And lastly, there will be an expansion of the balk rule(s). Pitchers can no longer take a second step toward home with either foot or otherwise reset their pivot foot in their delivery. This could cause Padres reliever, Carter Capps, a lot of headaches and balks. In all honesty, all of these changes seem pretty petty to me. Why not do something of substance like eliminating the ability to dress and field upwards of 40 players during the pennant race in September? Or how about how many times an inning/AB a catcher or player can visit the pitcher? Wouldn’t that speed up the proverbial “pace of play” a lot more than having a manager signal to the ump that they’re going to issue an intentional walk?

 

Cubs

 

Start of a Dynasty at Wrigley? Their young core is signed or controllable through 2020. Their ownership has deep enough pockets to retain not only their own upcoming free agents (Arrieta and Rizzo) but also has the financial flexibility to go after other teams top free agents; although the current Jason Heyward experiment might curtail that. If the Cubs do opt to go the trade route in order to add a piece or two, their farm system is cast enough to allow them to target high profile trade candidates; rental or otherwise. What I am trying to say is that they can easily do what they want.

 

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers

 

End of a Dynasty at Kauffman? World Series losers in 2014 and winners in 2015 but is the end of the Royal dynasty in sight? With OF Lorenzo Cain, 1B Eric Hosmer and 3B Mike Moustakas set to be free agents at seasons end there is a (very) good chance that all three of them have new teams in 2018. What could further signal the end of the Royals is that in the quest of their World Series title, they unloaded a fair amount of their farm system. The depleted minors means that their are few clear cut candidates able to step into the everyday lineup.

 

baby bombers.jpg

 

Full Year of the Baby Bombers in the Bronx. The first wave made their mark in 2016 with the arrival of C Gary Sanchez, OF Aaron Judge and 1B/OF Tyler Austin. 2017 could see those names joined by the likes of newly acquired top prospects, OF Clint Frazier and SS Gleyber Torres. If the Yanks can get any semblance of a decent rotation, this could be (one of) the surprise teams of 2017. At the same time, there is no sense of urgency or rush for the Yanks to compete; well besides their rabid fan base and media outlets. It is completely plausible for the Yankees to be sellers at the deadline again and further improve their DEEP DEEP farm system.

 

moncada.0

 

Rise of the Rebuilds. Rapid rebuilds in Chicago and Atlanta could see them contending for a playoff spot sooner rather than later. The Braves have taken a few years to retool their roster with the mindset of being ready to compete once they move into their new home. Well that’s this season and they’re not far off. In fact, I believe that given a few breaks and perhaps a move or two, they could make some noise this season. The White Sox on the other hand are new to the rebuild game but have made a few moves that could impact their roster as soon as this year. By acquiring 2B Yoan Moncada and P Lucas Giolito in separate trades, the White Six added two pieces that could feasibly start the year in Chicago. They could be joined by the likes of Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez by next year.

 

BP.jpg

 

Coming Soon to a Rebuild Near You. With the trade of Brandon Phillips are the Reds signaling that they are open for business? Was Brandon Phillips merely the first domino to fall? Even with his hefty contract, will the Reds try and trade Votto? What about the other veterans like Homer Bailey, Zack Cosart and Devin Mesoroco? You can bet that any team looking to improve their roster throughout the season will be placing a call to Cincinnati first. One place that could be an intriguing seller if they opt to go the rebuild route will be Detroit. With the death of owner Mike Ilitch the Tigers front office might (finally) have the green light to start offloading their veterans. You can bet that any first half struggles will be followed by the firing of Brad Ausmus and the FOR SALE sign being put on the front of Comerica Park.

 

dipoto

 

Moves For the Mariners. To date, GM Jerry Dipoto has made more trades than any other GM. His 16 trades since the end of the 2016 season has completely revamped the Mariners roster but will it be enough to fend off the Rangers and Astros, and get the Mariners back in the playoffs? Mariners have the talent on the roster to have an extremely high performance ceiling. However, that same roster also has an incredibly low performance floor too. The Mariners will need consistent production from their core of veterans (Cano, Nelly Cruz, Seager and the King), as well as a breakout or two in order to get back to October baseball. And that’s not even mentioning their rotation which, on paper, could be among the best in the bigs. That being said, it is also an injury or dismal performance away from being among the worst in MLB.

 

mets5.jpg

 

Who Has the Best Rotation in the Majors? Take your pick. Is it the Mets (Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler and Matz)? Giants (Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzjia, Cain and Moore)? Nationals (Scherzer, Strasburg, Gonzalez, Ross, Roark)? Red Sox (Price, Sale, Porcello, Rodriguez and Pomeranz)? Indians (Kluber, Carrasco, Salazar, Bauer and Tomlin? Blue Jays (Sanchez, Happ, Estrada, Stroman and Liriano)?

 

rip

 

Heavy Hearts in Miami and K.C. The loss of both Jose Fernandez last September and Yordano Ventura in the offseason have their respective teams playing in their honour for the 2017 season. How those teams respond is anybody’s guess. It could give them extra motivation in an emotional form or it could have the complete opposite effect. One thing that is for sure is that both losses will definitely be felt on the field. How each team manages to deal with that aspect could be the difference between possible postseason baseball or being out of it by the trade deadline.

 

Bold Predictions

Note: These are a combination of outlandish predictions from myself and frequent contributor and longtime friend, GP.

  • Jose Bautista wins the AL Home Run Title. Thanks the chip on his shoulder during his acceptance speech.
  • White Sox trade Jose Quintana at the deadline to the Astros.
  • Not finished, the White Sox find a taker for David Robertson, and his replacement, Nate Jones, emerges as one of the top closers in the AL by season’s end.
  • One of the surprise teams within reach of a playoff spot (Kansas City, New York Yankees, Oakland, Seattle, Atlanta, Colorado) will land the big fish available at the trade deadline (Sonny Gray, Chris Archer, etc…).
  • Nomar Mazara leads the Rangers offense with 35+ homers and 100+ RBI.
  • Kevin Kiermaier develops some pop, hitting 25 homers, stealing 25 bags, and becoming a first time All Star, but gets beaten out in GG balloting by Kevin Pillar.
  • Miguel Sano hits 40 homers for the Twins, but it’s not enough to keep Paul Molitor from being the first AL Manager fired.
  • Led by one of the American League’s best pitching staffs and a powerful offense, the Mariners end their playoff hiatus, sneaking in as a wildcard entry.
  • Another brilliant season from Mike Trout is not enough to keep the Angels out of the AL West basement, resulting in Mike Scioscia’s lengthy tenure drawing to a close in Anaheim
  • Trea Turner. NL All Star and MLB Stolen Base Champ
  • Rockies trade Carlos Gonzalez to the Cardinals at the deadline.
  • Despite Rockies missing the playoffs, Nolan Arenado wins the first NL MVP of his career. He also adds his 5th Gold Glove in as many years.
  • New arrival, Clay Buchholz, is a surprise top 5 finisher in the NL ERA title chase
  • The Pirates send two outfielders to the All Star Game, neither of whom is Cutch.
  • DJ Lemahieu repeats as NL batting champ, wins another GG, and finally begins to get national media attention/love.

and perhaps the boldest one…

  • Jedd Gyorko comes out of nowhere to lead the NL in home runs (hit 30 last year in 438 PAs, or 1 HR/14 every 6 PA vs NL leader Arenado 1 HR/17 PA)

 

– $

 

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